Life in the Middle Ages

Robert A. Scott

in Miracle Cures

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262751
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520946200 | DOI:
Life in the Middle Ages

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This chapter explains the conditions during the medieval period that made life so difficult. It describes how community and religion together offered buffers against these harsh conditions. These aspects of medieval life help us understand the roles saints played as protectors and healers of the sick. Thomas Hobbes' depiction of medieval life also discounts features of communal and religious life that served as buffers against adversity, like the comfort and reassurance afforded by religion, the certain belief that divine beings could provide protection, the powerful experience of community (a major benefit of communal existence), and the sense of mutual support and obligation toward other people. These are things that gave meaning to medieval life and helped cushion people against the burden of uncertainty and the precariousness of day-to-day existence. If life was at times frightening and dangerous, it also offered sources of comfort and solace.

Keywords: medieval period; community; religion; saints; Thomas Hobbes; adversity

Chapter.  8575 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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